A Passport to National Park Adventures

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For me, summer is synonymous with trips to National Parks. As a kid, National Parks seemed to the be theme of our family vacations. Mom and Dad would pack us into the car and head off to the likes of Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, Glacier and Denali to name a few. As an adult I’ve added to that list with Acadia, Death Valley, Arches, and Zion topping the list. Fortunately, I married a guy that likes National Parks as much as I do and so we’ve kept checking more off the list of parks we’ve visited.

NPS2 A few years ago we decided we should probably buy a National Park Passport Book. If  like visiting National Parks you really should get one. They are similar to a real passport, (minus the expense and headache!) and you stamp them each time you visit a park or monument. Each National Park has their own stamp; some being really unique. Why I didn’t get one of these long ago I don’t know but really wish I had. We are starting to fill ours up but we’ve got a long ways to go.

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Lucky for us we live in an area with six National Parks and Monument in our backyard and eleven more within a half-days drive. Without trying too hard we’ve filled up the Rocky Mountain section of our book and have even had to start stamping into the  section for overflow stamps. One unique way we’re personalizing our passport book is by adding photos of ourselves with each parks sign along with the stamp. There is a place on each page for a special sticker you can buy at each park but we wanted something more personalized. After our visit, we glue a photo of ourselves at that park into where the sticker would go.

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What is it about National Parks that draw us in? We feel like these are special places that blend adventure, travel, education and culture in a way that nothing else can. What better way to truly touch America than by hiking in the footsteps of pioneers on the Oregon trail, traveling back in time by helping excavate a fossil, standing in Custer’s boots under a Montana sky at the Battle of Little Bighorn, or camping under a starry sky in some of the wildest places on earth. The next time you find yourself wanting something to do or wishing you understood something better, we’d recommend grabbing your own National Park Passport Book and heading to the nearest National Park.

*Links are not affiliate, all words are my own. The National Park Service did not commission this post and has no idea who I am but if they want to sponsor a series I’d love to be their gal!

Fun in the Sun: A Review of Mineral Sunscreens

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It’s no secret that Peanut and I are pale; as in cousins of Casper the Ghost. As such, sunscreen is a necessary part of our daily lives. Over the past year Jake and I switched our skin and hair care products to healthier options. Sunscreen was one of these things. Thankfully most of the products we switched to weren’t hard to adjust to. Sunscreen wasn’t one of these however. Going without sunscreen isn’t an option but my old favorite was loaded with some bad stuff and so the search for a new favorite began. (Want to know how the products you use rate? Check out EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database!)

If you’ve never tried a mineral-based sunscreen let me fill you in on them. Unlike chemical-based sunscreens, these are a much thicker product because they use a physical barrier, like zinc oxide, to protect you. This thick cream doesn’t breath like the chemical-based creams so I find I a bit sweat more. Also the minerals tend to have a white hue when you apply them, causing some of them to leave you bit “ghostly” looking.  (It took me 3 brands before I found one that didn’t have this effect but they do exist!) These properties have taken some getting used to but the fact that Peanut and I aren’t absorbing lots of bad chemicals and are still being protected is worth dealing with these side-effects.

Lucky for you I’ve spent the last year testing five readily available mineral-based sunscreens. Of the five there are two that I use daily, one that I love and wish had a slightly better score, one that I love for Peanut and one that I’ll be packing if I’m headed to extreme sun.

Thinksport Sunscreen, SFP 50 (EWG 1) $10.84 I really wanted to like this one, between the SPF of 50 and their affiliation with LiveStrong I was prepared to be in love. Sadly, it was my least favorite. It was the thickest of the five and almost difficult to apply. This also resulted in crazy levels of sweat since it didn’t breath very well. It left me looking pretty ghostly (hard to do!) and was hard to wash off at the end of the day which was a double bummer when I wanted to return to my normally pale self. However, it did provide a insane level of protection and if I ever find myself traveling to Nevada, Utah or Arizona you can bet I’ll be packing a few tubes of this stuff.

Badger Kids Sunscreen, Tangerine & Vanilla SPF 30 (EWG 1) $15.50 This one I’m kind of neutral about. It went on easier than the Thinksport, smelled nice, and left my skin soft, which I loved. However, it also left me with a white hue that had my co-workers asking what if I was feeling okay and that I didn’t love. It also is the priciest of the EWG 1 rated sunscreens. However, this is the one I currently pack in the diaper bag because I love that I can read the entire ingredient list.

Kiss My Face Natural Mineral Sunscreen with Hydresia SPF 40 (EWG 2) $16.56 This has become one of my two daily drivers. It goes on fairly easily and induces less sweating then the Badger or the Thinksport,but still more then a chemical-based sunscreen. It does take a bit to wash off as well but has significantly less of a whitening effect, yay! With between the price and the extra chemicals, as compared to the next two, I probably won’t be putting this one in my shopping cart regularly unless something changes.

alba botanica Very Emollient Sunscreen, Kids SPF 45 (EWG 2)  $8.54 I love this one because of how easy it is to apply and its complete lack of ghostly hue. The price is also nice! It does have a few ingredients that raise my eyebrows a bit and that’s what puts it lower on my list then the Honest Sunscreen but it’s still an EWG 2 which is a huge improvement over most sunscreens. If this was an EWG 1, it would win hands down!

Honest Sunscreen SPF 30 (EWG 1) $13.95 This is my other daily driver. It goes on fairly easy but you do have to rub it in well. It has a hint of whiteness when you put it on but that seems to soak in after a while. It still is thick enough to make you bead up with sweat but not as much as the Badger or the ThinkSport which I appreciated. This one will probably become my go to sunscreen this year for a number of reasons; it’s reasonably priced, is readily available (thank you Target!) and scores 1 on EWG’s database.

There ya have it; my current take on sunscreens. If you have a favorite that you’d recommend I’d love to hear about it and give it a try!

*product links are affiliate links but not the link to EWG

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It was only a matter of time before she figured out how to get around but it’s hard to believe it happened so quickly. It’s amazing what 6 months will get you. Let the baby-proofing really begin!